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Old March 14 2013, 03:34 PM   #75
Sci
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Kestrel wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
No, it's not, because it still legitimizes the ridiculous notion that a society can be a democracy yet prevent 80% of its people from voting.
You seem to have some need for "democracy" to have a pure meaning,
I do, indeed, insist that "rule by the people" be used only to describe societies that feature rule by the people, not 20% of the people.

Sci wrote: View Post
And what is wrong with that? Why shouldn't we look back on ancient societies and acknowledge when their ideology is morally objectionable by modern standards? Why shouldn't we judge them by the standards we'd use to judge, say, China or Russia?
There's a difference between recognizing their ideology as objectionable, even abhorrent to us and arrogantly declaring that a word they invented to describe their system of governance is too good for them.
It's not too "good" for them. It's just not accurate.

And why shouldn't we judge earlier societies by modern standards?

Sci wrote: View Post
If we accept that definitions have changed over time, then why stick to their vocabulary?

After all, at the time, they didn't call the Roman Emperors "emperors;" Emperors kept the rhetoric and language of the Roman Republic, even while concentrating all power in their hands. Yet we don't call them the Princepts Senatus or Pontifex Maxium -- we call them Emperors. And we don't continue to call their state "the Senate and People of Rome." In spite of their use of republican rhetoric and vocabulary, our vocabulary to describe them uses modern terms to describe the reality of their political system -- an Empire, ruled by an Emperor. So the practice of saying, "We know they used this term for themselves, but we're gonna use a different term because we don't think that's accurate" has a very well-established precedent.
Because it's accurate to the time period, of course. I mean, with allowances for translation (or not).

And, um... yes they did. Where do you think we get the word emperor, or empire for that matter? Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Princeps Senatus... and Imperator. These were all titles that emperors held.
No, they did not call them emperors.

Rome used no single constitutional office, title or rank exactly equivalent to the English title "Roman emperor". Romans of the Imperial era used several titles to denote their emperors, and all were associated with the pre-Imperial, Republican era. "Roman emperor" is a convenient shorthand used by historians to express the complex nature of the person otherwise known as princeps - itself a republican honorific.

The emperor's legal authority derived from an extraordinary concentration of individual powers and offices extant in the Republic rather than from a new political office; emperors were regularly elected to the offices of consul and censor. Among their permanent privileges were the traditional Republican title of princeps senatus (leader of the Senate) and the religious office of pontifex maximus (chief priest of Roman state). Every emperor held the latter office and title until Gratian surrendered it in 382 AD to St. Siricius; it eventually became an auxiliary honor of the Bishop of Rome.

These titles and offices conferred great personal prestige (dignitas) but the basis of an emperor's powers derived from his auctoritas: this assumed his greater powers of command (imperium maius) and tribunician power (tribunicia potestas) as personal qualities, independent of his public office. As a result, he formally outranked provincial governors and ordinary magistrates. He had the right to enact or revoke sentences of capital punishment, was owed the obedience of private citizens (privati) and by the terms of the ius auxiliandi could save any plebeian from any patrician magistrate's decision. He could veto any act or proposal of any magistrate, including the tribunes of the people (ius intercedendi or ius intercessionis). His person was held to be sacrosanct.
And the word imperator was not a synonym for "emperor" in our understanding of the term:

In Roman Republican literature and epigraphy, an imperator was a magistrate with imperium (Rivero, 2006). But also, mainly in the later Roman Republic and during the late Republican civil wars, imperator was the honorifical title assumed by certain military commanders. After an especially great victory, an army's troops in the field would proclaim their commander imperator, an acclamation necessary for a general to apply to the Senate for a triumph. After being acclaimed imperator, the victorious general had a right to use the title after his name until the time of his triumph, where he would relinquish the title as well as his imperium....

At first the term continued to be used in the Republican sense as a victory title but attached to the de facto monarch and head of state, rather than the actual military commander. The title followed the emperor's name along with the number of times he was acclaimed as such, for example IMP V ("imperator five times"). In time it became the title of the de facto monarch, pronounced upon (and synonymous with) their assumption.
So, the title of imperator referred to successful military commanders, not hereditary monarchs -- and the monarchy we now call the Roman Empire was not an official monarchy, but was a de facto monarchy legitimized by the accumulation of republican constitutional offices. (One might compare it to the same way the ruler of, say, North Korea legitimizes his status through the accumulation of numerous seemingly republican titles [such as General Secretary of the Workers' Party, Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party, Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army].) Imperator was merely one of the titles a de facto emperor would acquire.

All of which is a very long way of saying: We don't adhere to the meaningless rhetoric used by the Romans. We call their emperors their emperors, not their "pontifex maximus with tribunician power and imperium superseding all others."
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